At January’s spring sports media day, Maryland baseball captain Kevin Keister said “it was no secret” the Terps needed to pitch better. Maryland, which had the fourth-worst ERA in the Big Ten last year, dove into the transfer portal to grab seven pitchers and a new pitching coach, Jimmy Jackson.

The change brought optimism and positive early results, but the Terps’ pitching staff has crumbled of late.

Amid a 2-6 stretch, Maryland’s pitchers have allowed at least nine runs in six of their last eight games. Kenny Lippman and Logan Koester have struggled in weekend starts and the bullpen has disappointed. Injuries depleted previous depth, leaving Maryland with few options.

“There’s no reason to panic,” coach Matt Swope said after the Terps’ series loss to Indiana on Saturday.

Maryland declined to make Lippman and Koester available for interview.

The Terps held the second-best ERA in the Big Ten on April 2. They have dropped to sixth in the conference at 5.55 and have a 9.66 ERA in their last eight games.

Lippman has surrendered five or more runs in three of his last four Friday starts. Koester has done the same in his past three starts. The latter hasn’t gone five innings in any of those games, a feat he accomplished in five of his first six starts.

[Maryland baseball drops second straight Big Ten series after 14-2 loss to Indiana]

Both pitchers had sub-3.00 ERAs after Maryland’s series against Bryant in early March, Maryland’s third straight victorious weekend set to open the year.

They were thrust into the rotation after Maryland lost all three of its weekend starters from last season. Both Jason Savacool and Nick Dean were drafted. Sophomore Kyle McCoy is sidelined due to Tommy John surgery.

“We’re gonna need these guys to pitch on the weekend,” Swope said after a 14-2 loss to the Hoosiers on Saturday. “We need them to be better but just hope for a little bit more consistency.”

Tuesday starter Ryan Van Buren likely won’t move from his midweek post, Jackson said in March. The junior has had his own struggles and failed to make it through the third inning in two April starts and holds a 5.30 ERA.

“The way that Kenny’s pitches move, Koester’s different than him. Ryan’s kind of in the middle of both,” Jackson said in March. “Having somebody in the middle doesn’t seem like a good fit for the same team three days in a row.”

The bullpen has also faltered. Maryland’s relievers have a 9.46 ERA in the last eight games.

After freshman Evan Smith churned 3⅓ scoreless innings on Tuesday against Georgetown, the Terps gave up nine combined runs in the sixth and seventh. Maryland lost despite leading by five heading into the bottom of the sixth.

[Maryland baseball’s pitching struggles continue in 15-4 loss to Indiana]

The bullpen has also been limited by transfer injuries. Right-hander James Gladden underwent Tommy John surgery shortly before the season. Garrett French hasn’t pitched since March 3 due to injury. Trystan Sarcone also hurt his elbow last Wednesday.

“We’ve tried to build the depth in the bullpen and we’ve been devastated right now with injuries,” Swope said. “Younger guys are gonna get some opportunities.”

Pitching has been a consistent issue for Maryland. The Terps recorded the fifth-best earned run average in the Big Ten in 2021 under pitching coach Corey Muscara. Muscara departed for Wake Forest the next offseason. The Terps struggled under Mike Morrison over the next two years with a 5.50 ERA in that span.

After a 4-2 upset loss to UMBC, Maryland’s series against Northwestern this weekend offers a chance to work through the struggles. The Wildcats are winless in conference play through six games and have scored the fewest runs in the Big Ten.

A Maryland series loss would make its postseason prospects tenuous. Northwestern is ranked No. 105 in RPI, and the Terps would fall at least two games under .500 in conference play.

Despite the stakes and recent performance, Swope and Maryland remain committed to their current rotation.

“There won’t be any rash decisions,” he said on Saturday.